Exclusive: Scared teachers want masks in classrooms

Tes survey of 7000 UK teachers finds 58% are frightened or worried when in school, and most want masks for all in classrooms

Catherine Lough

Scared teachers want masks for all in classrooms

Most UK teachers are scared or worried about Covid safety in schools and think all pupils and staff should wear masks in classrooms.

The findings come from a Tes survey, responded to by more than 7,000 teachers.

It reveals that when in school this term, 44 per cent of teachers are worried about their Covid safety and another 14 per cent are "frightened".

survey 2"There are too many children in school," said one state primary teacher in England. "I do not know where they have been and how many other people they have seen.

School reopenings: Most teachers want attendance rotas

News: School Covid rotas 'difficult', says minister

Coronavirus: School reopenings 'will not be straight after half-term'

"Although we are taking reasonable precautions, the new variant is so infectious, it makes me frightened that I will catch it."

A state secondary teacher in Scotland commented: "I am frightened as I can see up to 190 pupils in a day. My classroom is small and my class sizes go up to 32.

"I have a hand sanitiser and a mask and I can’t stay two metres away from my pupils. Pupils brush up against me in the corridor and sometimes barge past whilst chasing friends. It’s awful."

Coronavirus: Most teachers think masks should be worn by all in classrooms

The Tes survey, conducted at the end of last month, also shows that most teachers think masks should be worn in classrooms by all pupils and staff.

That would represent a significant toughening up of the rules. In England, current government guidance dictates that masks must be worn in communal areas in secondary schools, while primary schools can decide their own masks policy.

But of the more than 7,000 teachers who responded to the survey, 56 per cent said masks should be worn by everyone in classrooms, as well as communal areas, although another 30 per cent disagreed.

survey masks

A teacher at an independent secondary school in England said: "Always have thought that students should be wearing masks in school. I understand the difficulties with this, but think that anything we can do to mitigate the passing on of the virus should be done.

"Where students are hearing-impaired, then masks with perspex inserts could be used."

And a secondary state teacher said: "It seems nonsensical that students wear masks outside and in the long and drafty corridors, but then take them off in the small classroom space where they spend an hour and ventilation is sometimes difficult."

However, they added: "At the same time, I am not sure I could teach languages effectively if my pronunciation was muffled by a mask and students couldn't see my lips."

But a state primary teacher in England said: "I work in an infant school and do not think it is appropriate for the children to wear masks. The staff have to wear masks around the school but the choice is theirs if they want to wear them in class in their bubble."

The survey also reveals that most teachers want attendance rotas to be used when schools open more widely.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

Latest stories

Careers guidance: How schools can make the most of careers education

How to get careers education right

Covid has made careers education more important than ever, says Oli de Botton – and here's how to do it well
Oli De Botton 6 May 2021